Card Games

Card games have always been popular in one way or another. From standard playing cards to newer games such as Pokémon, Exploding Kittens and even a card version of Monopoly (Monopoly Deal), cards help us to work on our decision processes and practise thinking about what possibilities and outcomes could exist with different moves we make.

Cards are one of the most versatile manipulatives we have (until smart phones of course). They can be used for games but also non game activities such as study or flash cards. There are even online versions of these.

For us, the most powerful aspect of cards is the fact that they are portable. This means they can be used to think with your hands or transfer your thinking outside your head. This is such an important idea for the development of most abstract thinking.

A hand of 5 cards that adds up to 21 is one of the best you can get. This is one example

Most card games are helpful for the development of number sense but a great example of a standard game would be 21 (also called black jack in the USA for some reason). This is such a useful game for learning about partitioning or at least practising it.

The activity in the challenge I’m pretty sure I got originally from Math4love who created a lot of maths games including Prime Climb and Tiny Polka Dot. It is a great way to hypothesise and test ideas. It’s also a great way to look for patterns and see what happens when you try it with odd cards, even numbers of cards, a larger number or an undefined number.

Some related topics:

  • Number bonds
  • Sequences and rules
  • Combinations and organisation

To try this activity:

  1. Download the resource file with templates and challenges
  2. Print out the file and possibly Dobble example printouts (Created for vocabulary support but might not be perfectly set with the constraints of Dobble)
  3. A pack of normal playing cards and possibly Dobble cards
  4. Watch the video introductions to each of the activities (playlist here)

Download or share all of these challenges with this pdf and let us know how you got on with it by tweeting using #momentofmaths and start to see Every moment is a #momentofmaths. Please add any photos or videos to our gallery. Here’s the link: View and upload moments. Remember you can explore the challenges that we post here in our online maths clubs where you get an online version that you can play with directly on your computer. To find out more about our online clubs go to

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